Tension headaches? Your neck hurts constantly from working at the desk?
Then you most likely suffer from a Tech Neck – Improve it now!
When every abrupt head movement releases a stinging sensation, it’s more or less due to your posture and the result of constantly staring not only on your computer screen but especially on your phone or working from a desk all day, every day.
To understand how you can improve or even avoid this to happen, I’ve broken down some useful tips for you.
Our spine (vertebral column) is made up of four natural curves.
Neck downwards these curves are called cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral curvature.
Each of those bracket looking pieces are made up of the vertebral body (boney part), intervertebral disks (the squishy jelly in between) and of course the spinal cord.
- 7 bones in the neck—the cervical spine
- 12 bones in the chest—the thoracic spine
- 5 bones in the lower back—the lumbar spine (24-26 in total)
- on average we are born with 33 bones but the lowest ones fuse together as we reach adulthood
- the vertebrae (bones) interact and connect with each other through flexible joints called facet
Nerves that can impact a Tech Neck
You have 31 nerve pairs that are based in your back branching out.
- 8 cervical
- 12 thoracic
- 5 lumbar
- 5 sacral
- 1 coccygeal (at the very bottom)
Each of these pairs connects to the spinal cord reaching a specific region of the body. Near the spinal cord each spinal nerve branches into two roots.
What does it have to do with the Tech Neck?
When you are an adult, your head weighs around 5-6 kilos. Those previously mentioned top 7 vertebrae (bones) in your neck at the top part of your spine(cervical spine) and around 20 muscles are responsible to move your head around and keep the weight in place and stabilising it.
That said, with constant bad posture, you develop what’s called a Tech Neck and disturb the nerve connections resulting in not only a bad posture but also neck/back pain and sometimes even a tingling sensation in your fingers when the nerves are pinched or the neck inflamed in certain areas along the way.
If you carry all this weight to the front of your neck and constantly lean with your face down or forward, then of course it will result in unwanted wrinkles on your neck and face from carrying all weight forward which will be challenging to recover from as time goes by.
Once you tilt your head forward and/or look down, which is the common posture for texting on a mobile device, the weight of your head places 20-30 kg of force on the neck.
Over time the extra weight can cause pinched nerves and herniated disks. Sometimes only surgery is an option due to bad posture throughout the years.
Simple hacks to improve your posture & therefore Tech Neck
- try to keep your screen of any kind on eye level, yes even your phone – hold it up to eye level or stare down at your phone but only with your eyes and this will make you avoid tilting your head
- there are solutions to either elevate your screen or laptop at your workplace/home which are worth the investment if it’s not a couple of books or boxes stacked on top of each other, helping you to look straight ahead instead of down
- try to get up from your desk every 30 min to change your body and head position and give yourself some stretches
Some exercises to implement
Further support which can be done at any time during the day
Neck stretch front
- Sit at your desk or stand comfortably with your shoulders relaxed
- Mouth closed, teeth touching but not clenching, push your tongue to the roof of your mouth (palate) and look up to the ceiling for a great neck stretch
- Hold it and let your jaw relax and open your mouth and see if you can bring your head further back an inch or two
- Keep your head still and bring your lower jaw to your upper jaw, closing your mouth
- You should feel a stretch in the front of your neck – verges on mewing but the focus here is actually the neck stretch
Neck stretch sides
- Place your feet flat on the floor and sit up straight.
- Relax your arms by your sides.
- Place your right hand on your head
- Tilt your head to the right.
- Use a little bit of pressure from your hand on your head to deepen the stretch
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Slowly lift your head and repeat this exercise on your left side
- Fold your hands behind your back with your palms facing up
- Try to stand straight facing forward
- Slowly stretch your arms out and feel the stretch in your neck and shoulder
- Try to open your chest with the stretch and pull the shoulders down
Open your chest
- Stand in front of a wall facing your back
- Keep your hands against the wall, facing your back as well
- Slowly glide up with the elbow pressed against the wall as if you would do a jumping jack and come down again
- It will strengthen your shoulders and back and mobility
Your results will be great
- never too late or too early to start implementing this into your daily life as we will, in the best case, carry our heads with our necks for all our lives
- strengthens and stretches the muscles of the shoulders and neck
- creates an awareness of correct (head) posture and therefore also improves neck wrinkles and your tech neck over time
- creates better blood circulation and is also beneficial for supported lymphatic drainage which makes you look and feel fresher works preventative in the long run to avoid irreversible spinal and nerve damage
- Not only the upper nerve pairs can be compromised with tech neck but a whole lot more if the bad posture continues past the neck/ upper body
- most of the long term damage can be avoided if posture awareness is created
- if you suffer from severe neck pain or even numbness/tickling in your fingers/hands, your neckline is already very compromised and needs medical consultation if not treated, so do not wait on this one